Soon,fire officer must for high-rises

Weeks after the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation pulled out the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act of 2006...

Written by Dhanya Nair | Mumbai | Published:January 22, 2009 1:57 am

Weeks after the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) pulled out the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act of 2006 out of cold storage,the state as per the norms laid down in the Act has decided to appoint a fire officer for high-rises above 30 metre (that is 10 storeys and more). According to officials from the State Urban Development Department (UDD),high-rises including malls,multiplexes,5-star hotels,industrial estates and hospitals will be required to have their own fire officer.

Deputy Municipal Commissioner,SS Shinde (disaster management),said,“Depending on their use,all commercial buildings that are more than 30 metre will require their own fire officers. Residential buildings do not fall under this as they are relatively low risk group.” According to sources,such measures are practised in places like New York,London and Germany.

The idea behind appointing a fire official is to make sure that the norms of the Act are strictly followed. “The Act mentions a plethora of preventative measures to be taken and the mandatory safety equipment to be installed. The onus will be on the fire officer to ensure that these norms are practiced and that the fire-fighting systems are in working condition. He will be required to keep in touch with the fire department,” said a senior official from the Urban Development Department.

To meet the demand of fire officers,the state government will hire personnel from outside Mumbai Fire Brigade as well. “We probably won’t have enough fire officers for all high-rises. Hence we will outsource them. We will give them essential training for six months at our Nagpur institute. Even retired officials from fire department can volunteer for this work. Later we will even franchise the training programme to private institutes,” said the official.

Shinde said,“Violations with regard to appointing a fire officer will be treated on a case to case basis and usually it will be the magistrate’s court that will deal with these matters.”

The basic qualifications for a fire officer will include the candidate’s ability to deal with emergency situations and expertise in using fire-fighting equipment.

However,civic officials said that the final decision on the qualifications is yet to be taken. “The requirements for fire officers as far as the qualifications are concerned are still to be worked out. For now we will require a certain level of physical fitness and a B.Sc in Chemistry is essential. The final decision in this regard will be taken by the director of fire services,” added Shinde.

State government officials added that though some buildings in the city have fire officials,this Act will make it mandatory to have one. “A fire official’s work is to make sure that all precautions are taken. We also have to take care of the security of our location,” said fire officer from Taloja Industrial estate,R B Patil.

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